Rep. Lynn Gattis (R, Wasily) has criticized the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation – AHFC – for doing good. WC can’t make this stuff up. Rep. Gattis thinks it is wrong for a state-owned corporation to host a charity golf tournament to raise money for the Nome Boys and Girls Club. In one short, ill-considered press release, Rep. Gattis manages to get the facts wrong, the policy wrong and ignore her own misconduct, which involved far more money than AHFC’s charity event.
Let’s refresh our recollections about Rep. Gattis. This is the woman who sold the Mat-Su Borough an easement across property in which she had only agricultural rights. She sold the Borough something she didn’t own. And she got a good price for it, too, some $65,225 in fact. Never mind that the easement was “unnecessary,” that it wasn’t used by the Borough or its contractors for the Borough’s pie-in-the-sky railroad spur. It’s not different than WC selling you the Cushman Street Bridge in downtown Fairbanks.
This is the person who has criticized AHFC, a state-owned corporation, for holding a charity golf tournament to support the Nome Boys and Girls Club.
It’s pretty clear that no state funds were used in support of the golf tournament. The AHFC employees who participated did so using personal leave. No staff time or resources were used; Rep. Gattis, the woman who didn’t hesitate to chisel $65,225 out of the Mat-Su Borough, projected her values and standards onto AHFC and its employees, and assumed its employees had similarly misused government resources for its charitable event. She was wrong.
It’s also pretty clear that Rep. Gattis doesn’t have a clue about AHFC. It’s a state-owned, public corporation. It not only pays its own way, it turns a tidy profit. It is self-supporting. It has earned the state some $1.9 billion since its creation in 1986. It is among the most successful and useful of the various state corporations. In addition to funding the purchase of tens of thousand of homes and apartments, it has funded research into better building designs, increased energy efficiency and helped improve air quality. The housing construction it supports is an important element of Alaska’s economy. AHFC works, and works very well. And the most important thing to do with a state agency that works is to leave it alone and let it do its business.
If the Board of Directors of AHFC – each member of which is appointed by the Governor, by the way – thinks that a charity event helps market the services of AHFC to the lenders, real estate companies, contrators and others who use its services, then Rep. Gattis should keep her mouth shut. Each of the Board members is smarter, better informed and better educated than Rep. Gattis. AHFC, unlike the Alaska Legislature of which Rep. Gattis is a member, actually works.
The employees of AHFC donated their time; WC didn’t notice Rep. Gattis donating her time for the months of legislative special session when she basically accomplished nothing for weeks on end. A sensible person, a person with the introspection of, say, a rabid weasel, might hesitate to criticize AHFC in those circumstances. But not Rep. Gattis.
A borrower who took $65,225 for something she didn’t even own might be just a little discreet. But not Rep. Gratis.
An elected official might make some inquiries into, you know, the facts, before jumping to conclusions. But not Rep. Gattis.
Is this really the best the Valley has to offer to the state legislature? Really?